Does a Criminal Record Expire?

By 16 August 2022March 9th, 2023No Comments

When do Criminal Record Expire?

The looming question, “Does a criminal record expire?” has probably been in the minds of many. Criminal records in Canada never expire or go away on their own until the individual obtains a record suspension or Pardon. In absence of this step, a record will be kept on file and publicly visible by the RCMP in the CPIC database until the individual becomes 80 years assuming the individual did not have any illegal behaviour within the previous ten years.

What is a Criminal Record?

A criminal record in Canada is documentation of someone’s contact or involvement with the criminal justice system, starting with the police. It includes any crimes they have been charged with or convicted of since age 12. Criminal records are stored on a nationwide database known as CPIC, which is operated by the RCMP’s National Police Services (NPS) program. This database started on July 1, 1972 to improve communication of public safety and criminal justice information in Canada.

The CPIC System is the only national information-sharing system that links law enforcement and other public safety partners across Canada. Through the CPIC System, criminal justice information is shared 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over 100,000 law enforcement officers in Canada and hundreds of partner agencies both nationally and internationally access its information to help advance their law enforcement mandates and keep Canadians safe and secure.

Your record will fall under one of two categories: conviction records or non-conviction records. Non-conviction can be subcategorized as follows:

  • Non-conviction (findings of guilt): The person of interest was found guilty or pleaded guilty. This person doesn’t receive a criminal conviction, but they aren’t exempt from receiving an absolute or conditional charge. If the aforementioned is received, the person charged can’t apply for a pardon. However, the Criminal Records Act states that conditional charges should be sealed after three years and absolute charges should be sealed after one year.
  • Non-conviction (no findings of guilt): If you were under investigation of any kind, but found innocent, the investigative measures may appear on your criminal record.

When convicted, you are found guilty. Whether you are serving a sentence or discharged, these convictions will reflect on your criminal record. How you serve your sentence, will also be stated. For example, jail time, paying fines, or community service. 

How Many People Have a Criminal Record in Canada?

Statistics show that over 4 million Canadians are estimated to have a criminal record. Yet, many of them are unaware of what a criminal record is and the implications it may have for their future. Due to the opportunity for both immigrants and natives to grow and succeed, Canada has long been regarded as one of the world’s most coveted places to live. Although law-abiding persons in Canada have numerous opportunities to avoid having criminal records, life will seem very different after you’ve crossed that line and obtained a criminal record.

Having a criminal record can have a variety of negative impacts on an individual’s life. For example, it can limit their employment opportunities, make it more difficult to obtain a loan or housing, and affect their ability to travel to other countries. Additionally, a criminal record can have social and personal consequences, such as stigma and discrimination, which can impact an individual’s mental health and well-being. While criminal records may be eligible for expungement or sealing, the process can be complex and varies depending on the jurisdiction and type of offence.

How Long are Arrest Reports Kept?

A criminal record includes arrests, which remain until the document is purged. An alternate choice is for a defendant to ask for an order of nondisclosure, which prevents public disclosure of the record, such as to a potential employer. However, it does not erase an arrest from the description, enabling law enforcement agencies to still have access. You can get help with a petition for nondisclosure from an experienced attorney.

When you’ve applied for non-disclosure, you are free to keep the information of your criminal charge or arrest report private. You don’t even have to share it with your employer. Your arrest report won’t be accessible to the public, but it won’t be scratched from your criminal record.

Remember that there are differences when it comes to adult criminal records and those of the youth. A minor’s offence will be much shorter than an offence committed by an adult. If a person has committed an offence both as a minor and an adult, a pardon has to be applied for both offences. Whereas a minor’s record will be sealed when the due waiting period is over, without further incidents.

Convictions Which Are Never Cleared From Criminal Records

Certain offences will always show up when a criminal record check is completed. Some crimes including sexual offences related to a minor, murder, and other violent offences may not be eligible for a Pardon or record suspension.

How Can Pardon Applications of Canada can Help?

To get a record scratched from the public eye, you have to apply for Record Suspension, Canada’s version of a pardon. The problem is, you won’t immediately be removed from the CPIC. Here is the process explained:

  • Your sentence: everything contained in your sentence, whether it be jail time, probation, paying fines, or community service, has to be completed before a waiting period can be reached.
  • The waiting period: You are only eligible to apply for the Record Suspension when you’ve gained good conduct of 5 years (only applicable to Summary offences) or 10 years (only applicable to Indictable offences).
  • Lastly, the processing time: It can take between 6 to 12 months to have your application processed, depending on the type of offence you’ve received. In the case the Parole board denies your application, a letter will be sent to you, which you can reply to, with a processing time of an additional 24 months. 

It is of utmost importance to note that a record suspension will not cause your criminal record to disappear, but rather restrict public access to it. Legal agencies will have access to it when criminal checks are being researched. 

Your criminal record can stay with you until your quatre-vingtième years. Pardon Applications of Canada can walk you through the procedure to actually do something about your criminal record. The question, “Does a criminal record expire?” is often of concern to individuals who have been convicted of a crime. Get in touch by scheduling a call with PAC today, and we’ll help you find the answers.